Timothy Zahn talks of Thrawn as a bad guy, and this is how he portrays his character in the Thrawn Trilogy. But in "Outbound Flight" we learn that Thrawn is actually a cool guy and that he manouvers himself into a position of power within the Empire with the express purpose of fighting a future invasion by the Yuuzhan Vong.

So why does he fight against the New Republic when it is clear that it holds the balance of power, and that it will constitute the strongest opposition to the invasion he expects to come? Why not maneuver them to be prepared?

  • 1
    Because much like the Prequel trilogy, all of this new character development is a huge retcon that doesn't fit nearly as nicely as anyone would like.
    – phantom42
    Jan 3, 2015 at 5:18
  • @phanton42: I don't see how it doesn't make sense. Thrawn felt, correctly, that the New Republic return the galaxy to the chaos of the Old Republic. Borsk Fey'lya began playing political games with the state's survival all by himself, without any prodding from Thrawn. Why would he allow the galaxy to descend into anarchy and civil war when he could end it by unifying the region under his rule? Parck asks Jade the same question in Vision of the Future. Jan 3, 2015 at 6:03
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    “we learn that Thrawn is actually a cool guy” — he’s a real chill bro. Jan 3, 2015 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


In Choices of One, also by Zahn, Thrawn states his belief that "while other voices can advise, there must be one voice to decide, to rule, to be obeyed." In other words, Thrawn believes in the order and discipline of a monarchy rather than a democracy, which is possibly a product of his interactions with Jedi and Chiss politicians before joining the Empire. As such, his main goal, defending the galaxy - and the Chiss in particular - from external threats, primarily the Yuuzhan Vong, is something he thinks would be best served by the Empire under his rule, at least militarily. He seldom displays interest in power for its own sake, merely in the order that comes from a clear hierarchy of power; this is hardly uncommon in soldiers, who tend to despise anarchy in all its forms.

No doubt, if Thrawn had been alive in 19ABY - and he may have been, as Survivor's Quest hints - he would have left the New Republic alone, correctly deciding that his efforts were better suited strengthening the Empire of the Hand, the Imperial Remnant, and the Chiss Ascendancy, leaving the New Republic alone rather than wasting his forces against it. The Empire of the Hand built by Thrawn's successors, Admiral Parck and General Baron Fel, was described by Fel's son, Chak, as "more of a confederacy than an Empire in the strict sense," and there is no evidence of the use of force to prevent internal dissent in the new Empire.

Thrawn's philosophy andthe New Republic's philosophy were not as different as is often supposed; he is the benevolent despot, the New Republic the liberal democracy, and Palpatine the tyrant. The Prussia of Frederick the Great as compared to the Germany of Merkel, as compared to the Germany of Hitler. Which makes the Old Republic the volatile and useless Weimar Republic in this analogy. Lucas would like that.

As long as the New Republic didn't descend into the anarchy and infighting of the Old, there was no particular reason for Thrawn to go after it in 19ABY; in fact, it would be better to prop it up as potential buffer to the Vong. But in 9ABY, when The Thrawn Trilogy took place, internal political infighting was already beginning to tear the New Republic apart, with Borsk Fey'lya playing political games that threatened the polity's very survival. It also controlled only a tiny portion of the galaxy compared to the glory days of the Empire and less territory than that controlled by Thrawn after merely one year of campaigning. If the Republic couldn't survive a year against Thrawn's weakened Empire, it certainly couldn't survive a full-scale Vong invasion.

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